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20th Century Type, New and Revised Edition

There are a handful of books that should be required to sit on designers’ bookshelves from Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style to Philip B. Meggs A History of Graphic Design and, undeniably, to Lewis Blackwell’s 20th Century Type. Now in its third edition this book is a testament to the importance of typography in the twentieth century, not only for graphic designers but for culture as well, as the author consistently places typography, and its most arduous proponents, within the realm of world events, cultural shifts and technological advancements.

One of the most prominent changes in the third edition, and evidence of the shifting typographic styles, is the cover. In 1998’s second edition (Remix) the cover designed by Angus Hyland of Pentagram, reflected the digitally prolific decade of the 90s. The new cover, also designed by Hyland, showcases the return to Modernist cleanliness as well as the profession’s renewed concern and interest with the history of graphic design and typography — by pairing a keyboard and a type case. Other than the cover, the book is visually identical to its predecessor.

Reproduced in large sizes and beautiful color, 20th Century Type presents typography in its various guises — from typeface design to type in use to hand lettered type — in a visually extensive manner providing an in-depth glimpse into the evolution of typography from the Arts and Crafts movement, to the psychedelic 60s, to the postmodern 80s, to the as-yet-unlabeled late 90s. Likewise, the book is dense with information, providing an equally stimulating view of the relevance of typography.

The third edition literally picks up where Remix ended — with J. Abbott Miller’s Dimensional Typography project — and goes on to include the propagation of hand-scribbled typography by highlighting Kyle Cooper’s titles for Seven, as well as Stefan Sagmeister’s infamous hand-carved poster for an AIGA lecture. It also showcases the simplistic approaches taken by Bruce Mau and the return of Helvetica, exemplifying the stylistic confusion and differing duality of the late 90s. The additions to this third edition aren’t many and perhaps it would have served the author and publisher better to wait another five years to make a more thorough addition to an already impressive compendium. In this instance, a literary upgrade does not seem warranted if you already own the second edition, but if 20th Century Type is missing from your collection, this is a perfect excuse to make the addition.

Book Information
Twentieth-Century Type, New and Revised Edition
by Lewis Blackwell
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press, Revised edition (June 10, 2004)
ISBN: 0300100736
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PUBLISHED ON Aug.29.2004 BY Armin
Daniel’s comment is:

Thanks Armin, for every book review ever posted. I appreciate it.

On Oct.03.2004 at 05:52 PM
Armin’s comment is:

No problem! And I want to thank Jason for doing so damn many reviews.

On Oct.04.2004 at 07:33 AM